Door animation with FSDS

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Originally posted by "woody" to the forums - adapted from PDF by Nick Whittome


This is a little tutorial to help you all get the doors in you building to open and close. I have finely figured out how to move the doors in FSDS V3. you will also need Arno's latest CAT program to make it work. hope this helps all of you and if you have any question ask and I will try and help.

This tutorial is an attempt to illustrate one design process for animating sliding hangar doors using FSDS V3. Unlike the doors that rotate into the overhead, as described in FSDS V2 tutorials, these are on tracks and slide horizontally to each side much like many of the older hangar doors were constructed. The tutorial will concentrate on the front wall, four doors and their animation. The construction of the rest of the hangar or building will be left to the reader. This is still a work in process but I wanted to pass on what I have learned, by trial and error, to those that are interested in using animated sliding doors in their scenery design.

The Design

Figure 1
  • We will start with a front wall and four doors. The wall is constructed using three box primitives –the two sides and a cross beam that are joined to form one part leaving an opening measuring 40 feet wide by 20 feet high allowing room for 4 doors measuring 10 feet wide by 20 feet high. The depth of the parts is 0.5 feet. The doors are numbered for identification as seen in Figure 1.
Figure 2
  • Doors 1 & 4 are placed so they just clear the wall. Doors 2 & 3 are placed so they just clear doors 1 & 4 and are in the closed position. See Figure 2.
Figure 3
  • To prepare the parts for animation you need to define the parts hierarchy. First select the wall, then click on the Edit menu and select Part Properties. In the Part Properties box, enter Wall in the Part Name block and enter Wall, once again, in the Sub Name block. Because the wall has no parent in the parent/child relationship select NONE in the Part Parent roll out. Then click OK. See Figure 3.
Figure 4
  • Next select door number 1 and select Edit – Part Properties. This time you’ll enter door 1 in the sub name block and choose Wall as the Part Parent. Now click on Browse and choose scenery key frame animation as the category. Then click on Tick 18. Click OK. Now Door 1 has the wall as the Part Parent and the Part Name has changed to Tick 18. See Figure 4.
Figure 5
  • Next select door number 2 and go through the same process except this time make the Part Parent Door 1 by selecting Tick 18 in the Part Parent rollout and click OK. When you do, the part name now becomes Tick 18.1 for door 2. It is now the child of door 1. See Figure 5.
Figure 6
  • Repeat this same process starting with door 4 using the wall as the parent and then door 3 with door 4 as the parent. You should end up with the names Tick 18.2 and Tick 18.3. See Figure 6.
  • Now that the hierarchy is defined, its time to animate the doors. You are going to animate the door by using the animation mode and setting key frames. It may be easier to accomplish this task if you use an expanded view and set your grid to 1 foot. The door is 10 feet wide and you will be setting 11 key frames starting with 0 and ending with 1024.
Figure 7
  • Select door 1 again in either the top or back view. Select Animation Mode (Ani)and, from the Animation menu, select Set Key Frame. As you can see in Figure 7, the current position is 0*. This is the closed position.
  • Now click on Set Key Frame again and, using Shift-N, select the next key frame, which will be 100. Select Move Mode and Constrain Y and Z coordinates. Now move the door 1 foot to the left. Note that door 2 follows. Continue the same process moving the door to the left 100 Key Frames at a time until you reach Key Frame 1000. As you can see there are three steps to accomplish for each step in the animation. Once you move the door on the number 1000 Key Frame move the door 1/2 foot. Then select Set Key Frame once again and, with the N key only, select Key Frame 1024 and make the final move to the open position. 10. Its now time to move the door 2 using the same procedure as door 1. Once that is complete, you set the Key Frames for door 4 and door 3 in the same manner.
  • You should now be able to switch to the Perspective view, select the Animate Mode and, using the Shift N keys, open and clos the doors. Now that you have the doors animated, you can create a project MDL. I haven’t been able to make the animation work with the Flight Simulator and FSDS V3, so I turned to Arno’s program CAT. If you go to his site, you can download the Cat program and the accompanying video tutorial. To use the CAT program you will need the ASM file that is saved in FSDS when you compile the MDL. When you go through the CAT program it will compile a new MDL file that you can use with EZ Scenery to place your animation.

Note: When you place the animated doors with EZ Scenery the first time the model may fly apart. If that happens, close EZ Scenery and exit the simulator. When you restart the simulator the problem will be corrected.


I’d like to acknowledge George Cowan’s help and expertise in developing this tutorial and Arno, as well, for his Cat Program. I hope this helps you with your animation projects in FSDS V3. If you have any questions please let me know. . Good Luck!